In the last chapter we suggested a parallel between Eastern and Western ideals. Both the Buddhist monk and the clinical psychologist work toward understanding the forces that determine the inner life. As a result, they both work toward behaving compassionately with others. The present chapter describes another ideal that we share with the Eastern tradition.
In our culture, it is good for an adult human to act like "a mature human being" and it is bad to act in an immature way. "You're being immature" is not simply a description but is a pejorative epithet -- a criticism. Everyone I've ever suggested this to has agreed. For adults, being mature is good; being immature is bad. Here we seem to have a universal value.
When I present this assertion to one of my classes, say to my graduate students, they all nod in easy agreement. This is folk-psychology -- familiar ground. But then I ask "What do we mean by maturity? Give me an example where you would particularly say of someone 'He's mature,' and then give me a general definition." Now a long silence follows. This is clearly not an easy question. You, the reader, might consider it now. See how you have to grapple to formulate an answer.